£10m tropical disease research fund

08 March 2012 12:32

Scientists at the University of Dundee hope to discover treatments for neglected tropical diseases

Scientists at the University of Dundee hope to discover treatments for neglected tropical diseases

£10 million has been granted to Scottish university scientists to help them investigate tropical diseases, which 150,000 people in developing countries die from each year.

The Wellcome Trust and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have offered the funding to experts at the University of Dundee so they can research neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) from around the globe, such as African sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.

The university's Drug Discovery Unit will work alongside the Tres Cantos Medicines Development camp, which GSK runs in Spain.

In the next five years, the collaboration aims to discover a safe, affordable treatment for one of the NTDs, which are often caused by parasites.

The prevalence of such diseases countries that are on the tourist trail highlights the need for travellers to make sure they have medical travel insurance when heading off the beaten track.

Professor Alan Fairlamb from the university said: "These parasitic diseases, which afflict millions of people worldwide, are collectively responsible for about 150,000 deaths every year in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

"The drugs currently used to treat patients are often difficult to administer, have toxic side-effects and are not always effective due to drug resistance.

"Better, safer drugs are needed that are cheap and easy to administer, because most of these patients are living in poverty without access to hospitals or clinics."

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